2017 JG Crawford Prize recipients announced

24 June 2019

Recipients of the 2017 JG Crawford Prizes say they couldn't have gone onto successful careers after their ANU studies without the backing and support of their supervisors.

Psychologist Hugh Webb, biologist Jonathan Henshaw and legal expert Professor Anthea Roberts have received prizes for their respective work in their disciplines.

Hugh's work focused on the role of social processes in mental disorder.

"I have had a long-standing interest in this topic so it's very gratifying to be acknowledged in this way," he says.

While he was at ANU, Hugh studied both philosophy and psychology in his undergraduate years and then completed his clinical psychology training as part of his PhD - what he considers to be a useful combination of both theoretical and applied clinical experience for informing his PhD research.

"I'm hopeful my research will contribute to a clearer conceptual understanding of the nature of mental disorder which, compared to many bio-medical disorders, is still very much in its infancy."

Professor Anthea Roberts' PhD was a step away from her disciplinary home of law to a broader area of scholarship.

"Publishing my thesis Is International Law International? with Oxford University Press led to invitations from all over the world to present, from the United Nations to the International Court of Justice to the WTO," Anthea says.

"In turn, this led to some of the connections and conversations that have resulted in my current book project with Nicolas Lamp on Winners and Losers from Economic Globalisation with Harvard University Press."

Professor Roberts says she is very grateful to be located at interdisciplinary RegNet within the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific given her interest in changing geopolitical power.

Jonathan, or 'Jono', spent almost a decade at ANU. He says during that time, the University connected him with many opportunities.

"To me the ANU is a place where good research is valued and obstacles are there to be gotten around," Jono says.

"They handled my switch from pure mathematics to biology during my undergrad without so much as a raised eyebrow. I've never looked back - evolutionary biology is a fascinating field for a theoretician right now!"

Jono's area of expertise is using mathematical models to understand how animal behaviour evolves, including the evolution of mating systems and differences between the sexes.

All three recipients say they feel very honoured to receive the JG Crawford Prizes, and all acknowledge their supervisors.

Professor Michael Platow was Hugh's supervisor.

"Michael is not only a brilliant thinker, he is an extraordinarily talented teacher and he is utterly dedicated to his students," says Hugh, who is now based in New Zealand where he lives with his wife and two-year-old son.

"He gave me the intellectual tools I needed and, just as importantly, he gave me the confidence to pursue these ideas.

"I think a lot of other supervisors might have advised against me trying to tackle such a knotty topic in the way I did.  But instead he backed me and I am forever grateful for that."

Hugh is currently working for the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development, where he has been looking at social inclusion in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

Professor Hilary Charlesworth supervised Anthea for her PhD and undergraduate honours thesis.

"Hilary has always encouraged me to follow my passions and trust my instincts, even when this has led me in directions at odds with what is normally recommended for scholars," Anthea says.

"I owe this Prize to Hilary, RegNet and CAP and their support for me in tackling an important - though broad and unwieldy - topic and in breaking my disciplinary barriers in the process."

Professor Michael Jennions and Professor Hanna Kokko (who is now based at the University of Zurich) were Jono's supervisors.

"[They] have been not only stellar in exciting my interest in evolution and nurturing my development as a scientist, but also incredibly kind and supportive on a personal level," Jono says.

Jono is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Idaho, where he is working on biological research related to sexual selection. He says the prize will allow him to purchase a new laptop to continue his research.

"Maybe there'll be enough left over to go look for some birds here in Idaho. Even a theoretical biologist needs to see real animals!" Jono says.

The JG Crawford Prizes were established in 1973 to recognise Sir John Crawford's outstanding contributions to the University, both as Vice-Chancellor for five years and as Director of the Research School of Pacific Studies for the preceding seven years. Sir John was also the Chancellor of the University from 1976 to 1984.

Each year, two JG Crawford Prizes are awarded to PhD students - one in the natural sciences and one in the social sciences/humanities. One prize is also available for Master degree graduates whose program of study has been composed of or included research and the preparation of a thesis.

The 2017 recipients of the JG Crawford Prizes were chosen from a cohort of finalists from the 2017 round.

The next round of JG Crawford Prizes, for the 2018 cohort has just opened, and will be announced in late 2019.